Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Review and Excerpt - Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Title: Us
Series: Him #2
Author: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Release Date: March 8, 2016

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He's living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There's just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It's not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn't help that his new job isn't going as smoothly as he'd hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes's nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Ten Gold Stars for Jamie and Ryan! 

I’m so totally in love with Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley that I can’t even… I’m going to flail about, shout it from the roof tops and dance around! If you want a real-life love story, this is it. This. Is. LOVE! 

When Ryan Wesley is drafted to the pros and Jamie Canning takes a job to coach, they do everything they can to be together…including hide their relationship. Ryan doesn’t want to come out and have his relationship status affect his rookie season. Jamie understands, until things get too hard. When life gets in the way of their relationship, and others start barging their way inside their safe place, welcome to the tailspin. 

From the moment I started this book, I could not put it down. I stayed up until after one in the morning to finish what will be one my favorite reads of 2016. Love comes in all forms. No one should ever have to hide their love for another human being for fear of hatred or reprisal from others. No one should ever have to fear going out and holding hands or showing affection to the one they LOVE. US shows us that LOVE knows no boundaries and prevails. 

I laughed (at Blake, mostly) and cried, and feel like my heart is just a little more open! I’m probably rambling now, but how many different ways can I tell you I fell in love over and over and over again while reading this book?! 

Now, when do I get a book about Blake? 
~ Review by Heather

The first time I read HIM (yes, I re-read and re-loved it before I started this one), I left it feeling like there was more to Wes and Jamie. As much as I loved it—it was funny and feel-good, and hit me in the feels—it felt a little incomplete to me. 

And then came US… THIS is what I was missing. This wonderfully heartbreaking story of what happens after happily ever after hit me even harder in the feels, making me alternate laughter with tears, hope with hurt, anger with happiness. Simply put, US was perfection. 

The combination of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy is outstanding. Together, they’ve created a seamless and sublime story—one that captured my heart from the very first page. Through their words, Wes and Jamie just…work together. They did in HIM, and, despite their woes, they do here. Absolutely. No doubt. Ms. Bowen and Ms. Kennedy may have set them on a rocky path, but they never failed to illustrate how perfect these two men are together—even when, individually, they are far from. 

Gah, this book. There is just SO MUCH to love about it. It's sexy. As in, grab a partner, some batteries and lose the panties sexy. It's funny. Blake…if he doesn't get a book, I might go crazy. I have MAD secondary character love for loyal, funny, all-over-the-place Blake. US is sweet. Not sickly sweet—sweet in the way that makes you think true, lasting love can really exist, even if only when these two women come together to write a book. 

More than anything, though, US is real. Wes—I don't think I have the words for how much I adored him here. And Jamie, what a heartbreaker. Their struggles, their story, their love, all of it together, equaled a book that surpassed its predecessor and my expectations, left my heart light and happy even as tear trails tracked down my cheeks, and gave me the perfect ending I wanted for this striking couple. 
~ Review by Beth

Realistically speaking, we all know that happily ever afters are filled with bumps, and dips, and sometimes enormous gaping chasms, right? So, it should come as no surprise when, at the five month mark of their relationship, Wes and Jamie start experiencing some growing pains. It doesn't help that the most important relationship of their lives must remain a secret for the time being—a task made a hundred times more difficult when Wes's loud, boisterous, and supremely nosy teammate moves into their building. Their love is strong, but sometimes the forces outside of their control are stronger, and when their relationship is put to the test (or, really, test after test after test) the question becomes "is love enough?" Are they strong enough to weather the storms? 

The magic of the first book is still strong here. Everything I loved about Wes and Jamie then, I still love about them now. Maybe more. They're so natural together—loving and tender and comfortable in that way you only ever are with the person you've chosen as your other half. These men are athletes, in an unbelievably rough sport, requiring a toughness of mind, body and spirit that most of us will never possess. Yet, they're not afraid to show their vulnerabilities. They communicate. They emote. They love hard and shamelessly, and it is a fucking beautiful thing to experience with them. 

This book was an emotional ride—it felt very realistic and left my heart a little tattered. A lot of heavy issues are addressed here, but it's done with a gentle hand so it never drifts into preachy territory. This whole story feels so authentic, like a real relationship with real struggles and real consequences. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming and sexy as hell. It was nearly perfect; the balance of tears to laughter and tenderness to sexiness spot on. I wanted to cheer at the end of this book. If it had been a movie, I would have been the idiot clapping enthusiastically in my seat, because I felt that invested in this story and that overjoyed with the ending. 

My secondary character love is overflowing; the Canning bunch (every last one of them, but especially Cindy), Wes's team (at least, most of them), and especially Blake—I wasn't too sure about him at the beginning, but that giant goof stole scene after scene, and won my heart and devotion in the end. Plus, the coaches and Jamie's team. I have so much love for so many of these seemingly small details that my heart doesn't even know what to do with itself right now. Hugs all around! 

In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I loved this book. Hard. I felt like it was going to be a challenge to top the awesomeness of HIM, but Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy made it look effortless. If I loved Jamie and Wes after HIM, I fucking adore them after US. And now, I have this little thread of hope that we may see them again in a Blake story? A girl can dream... 
~ Review by Shelly

At long last, I’m twenty paces away, then ten. Then I’m opening our door. “Hey babe!” I call out like I always do. “I made it.” I drag my duffel over the threshold, then toss my suit coat on top, abandoning these things beside the door, because all I need now is a kiss.

Only then do I notice that our apartment smells amazing. Jamie has cooked dinner for me. Again. He is the perfect man, I swear to God.

“Hey!” he calls, emerging from the hallway leading to our bedroom. He’s wearing jeans and nothing else except—and this is unusual—a beard. “Do I know you?” He gives me a sexy smile.

“I was going to ask the same thing.” I’m staring at the sandy-blond beard. Jamie has always been clean-shaven. I mean—we’ve known each other since before facial hair. He looks different. Older, maybe.

And hot as blazes. Seriously, I can’t wait to feel that beard against my face, and maybe my balls… Jesus. The blood is already rushing south, and I’ve been home fifteen seconds.

And yet I’m just stuck there in the middle of the room for a moment, because even though it’s been eight months since Jamie and I started up together, I’m still a little stunned at my own good fortune. “Hi,” I say again, stupidly.

He walks forward, his easy gait so familiar that my heart breaks a little bit. He puts his hands on my traps and squeezes the muscle there. “Don’t go away for so long. If you do that again, I’m going to have to sneak into your hotel room on the road.”

“Promise?” I ask, and it comes out like gravel. He’s close enough now that I can smell the ocean scent of his shampoo and the beer he drank while he waited for me.

“If I ever get a winning lottery ticket and a day off, I’ll do it,” he says. “Hotel sex after a game? Sounds hot.”

Now I’m measuring the distance to our sofa and counting the layers of clothes I’ll need to remove in the next ninety seconds.

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont's Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.)

Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

A USA Today bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently publishes with Signet Eclipse, Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Samhain Publishing and Entangled Brazen. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Sarina Bowen

Elle Kennedy

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